This post is back-dated. I did not want them to stumble onto a description or images of the project before giving the gifts. I gave them recently, and they loved their cabins.
My sister and my brother are older than me. They've always looked out for me and made sacrifices to help me every so often. Last year, I had a little financial success and I wanted to pay them back. With Christmas coming up, I tried to come up with meaningful gifts. A gift of money? probably insulting. I could give them a model, but they are not into railroading. Then my 13 year old son suggested, "Why not make them a model of Grandma's Cabin?" My jaw dropped.
"Great idea, Karl!" I said.
Grandma's Cabin is a little structure, used mostly for deer hunting.My grandfather built it in the 1950's. He made the fireplaces out of stones he collected from the land, and the rafters out of straight poplars he cut down. In those days, out in the middle of the woods, there were no power tools, so he constructed it by hand. He built it "from the inside out", covering the frame with expanded metal, and coating that with cement. The structure stands solid, on a hill in the woods. My family and I have many great memories of that place, so identical models of the cabin for my brother and sister made the perfect gift.